Month: July 2017

Offense and Intent

Someone has said something offensive online.

You could remove them (or their post).

You could retort, try to offend them back, and get others to join in mocking them?

Or you could drop them a quiet line and explain “although you understand they didn’t mean to offend, some people are upset by what was posted because [reason]”

Which do you think helps the person the most?

This is less a question about the level of offense and more a question about the level of intent.

Did he intend to be offensive?

If the answer is yes, feel free to remove.

If the answer is no, have a quiet word and explain why it was offensive and what they can do to make amends.

Making people aware who unintentionally offend aware of their unintentional offense is a far better response than group bullying.

Building Internal Support vs. Building An Internal Alliance

July 30, 2017 Comments Off on Building Internal Support vs. Building An Internal Alliance

Building internal support begins with: “I want to do this thing, will you help me?”

Building an internal alliance begins with: “What are you trying to achieve? How can I help?”

Too many people try to build internal support when they should build internal alliances.

Support is difficult to gain and can quickly evaporate as priorities shift.

If you’re waiting for someone to do you a favour, take a number and get in line. You could be waiting for a while.

It’s a thousand times easier to build an alliance instead. Figure out the goals and concerns of those around you and see how you can incorporate them to achieve mutually beneficial outcomes.

The crucial difference is this means you need to change and adapt your vision of what the community should be to accommodate what others want. You can’t fake this or pay lip service. You earn their trust by showing you’ve truly listened and responded to what has been said.

A friend recently spent hours going through the sales team proposal documents for new business and attended one of their sales meetings. He noticed he had some powerful stories that would help illustrate their points. So he asked if they wanted any quotes from top customers or stories to support their key points?

Now the quotes he’s collected from community members feature prominently in sales decks and the stories are used by the entire sales team. In return, the sales team encourage new clients to use his community.

This is an alliance not built around asking someone for support, but by finding ways the community can help existing stakeholders. (p.s. Also, imagine how community members feel knowing their stories are featured so prominently in company material?)

There are countless opportunities all around you today to better understand the people around you and build more alliances. Alliances that begin with what they want, not what you want.

It’s a lot easier to get support if you begin with something they already support.

Tagging vs. Categories

Should you use tagging or categories to display content?

We’ve been debating this in our FeverBee Experts community.

Categorizing is easier for the member posting the question, tagging is better for members reading it.

Categorizing is an existing habit. Members already do it and are used to it.

Tagging allows for more flexibility. For example, we have areas for getting started, metrics, engagement, and platforms (below):

But if you’re a newcomer unsure what engagement metrics are worth tracking for a new community (and will the platform let you track those metrics?), what category would you use? Getting started? Measurement? Technology?

With tagging you don’t need to choose, you can select as many as are necessary. You’re more likely to get a response.

But it’s hard to create a new habit. You need to provide the right nudge at the right time. The solution, of course, is to test it and see what works. Do most members properly tag discussions? If not, do you have the resources to tag on their behalf? No? Use categories.

Begin with the best experience for members and work backwards to what’s feasible. Don’t begin with the easiest experience for you and work forwards.

Want To Set The News Agenda For Community Folks?

July 26, 2017 Comments Off on Want To Set The News Agenda For Community Folks?

We’re looking for one or two people to create a snapshot of useful news and articles for community experts to read.

If you think you can help (and want to run the recommended reading section of our community), click here.

You might find yourself setting the agenda for thousands in the community sector.

p.s. Also see how would you handle sexism in your community?
p.p.s A great write up of my talk in Jerusalem last week (you’ll need Google Translate).


The more people who help create an artefact, the more people are likely to share it.

The more it’s shared, the more people are likely to join and help build the next artefact.

Communities aren’t never-ending streams of discussions. They are places to use the collective knowledge, passion, and resources of members to build things that help every member.

Each artefact increases the value of the group and attracts more people.

An artefact can be anything you like (books, videos, products, prototypes, events etc…). The only requirement is it involves as many members as possible and it lives on the website indefinitely.

You probably don’t need more activity than you do now, you need to be working on more artefacts. Don’t create them for the community, create them with the community. Speak to a few members, define a problem, and then begin soliciting solutions for the problems.

Go forward from there.

Most People Are Attracted To Success

July 23, 2017 Comments Off on Most People Are Attracted To Success

Understand most people are attracted to success.

Almost nobody wants to be in the group at the beginning.

Why would they? There isn’t much there. Just a few discussions, no sense of community, and no track record of doing amazing things.

But success, wow, that’s attractive. Everyone wants to embrace the group identity when you’re successful.

Outside of customer support communities, the best way to build a community is to begin with the true believers. These are the people who closely share your vision for what the community could be and want it to be something new and terrific.

And the best way to find and nurture true believers is to invest the time beforehand to build up as many close relationships as possible. They will either be infected by your energy or reveal themselves through early interactions to be true believers.

It’s not the influencers you want to invite first, they’re almost never going to be great early members. It’s those with the most passion for the project. Begin there and you’ll find success follows.

Reactivation Programs and Bringing Members Back

July 20, 2017 Comments Off on Reactivation Programs and Bringing Members Back

“Our top members have drifted away, but I’m hoping after [take action] they will come back sharing knowledge again”

I’ll predict that won’t happen.

Moz had this problem too. Top SEO talent used to love participating in the community. The top members built a strong following and launched their own blogs/communities.

They occasionally return to participate, but only on posts about them, in webinars where they’re the guest star, to write special guest posts, or to participate in speaking at events etc…

Top members don’t usually drift away because of a single tech issue. They drift away because they’re relationship and attitude towards the group has changed. A sudden change might precipitate that issue, but the wheels were already long in motion. They feel their status is above this group level.

Don’t try to bring them back to perform the same behaviors, try to bring them back to do something different – something more befitting their perceived status (in their eyes) today.

It’s rarely a good idea to reach back into the past for community ideas. So look ahead and design new ways for people to participate in the group. Ways with high status and provide a sense of challenge.

Social Responses To Questions

An interesting paper to note:

Contrary to the theory of reciprocity, and in line with predictions by the bystander effect, we found that receiving high quality answers negatively influenced new knowledge seekers’ future likelihood of knowledge contribution.

Consistent with the social exchange theory, receiving high quality answers positively affected newcomers’ future knowledge seeking behaviors. Social responses (votes to the new members’ questions) were found to have strong positive effects on both newcomers’ future knowledge contribution and seeking behaviors.

This closely aligns with what we’ve seen.

Providing a really good answer to a question might encourage more questions but not more answers to a question. Reciprocity doesn’t work well within most online communities as people primarily interact with strangers.

If you want to convert an asker into an answerer, you usually need to tickle their needs for status and validation. Give them a small taste of importance (stress the impact or influence of the question). Great answers alone aren’t enough.

BIG GUIDE: Nurturing And Fostering Superusers In Your Online Community

July 18, 2017 Comments Off on BIG GUIDE: Nurturing And Fostering Superusers In Your Online Community

Building and nurturing a powerful group of insiders is going to be a critical part of your job.

The challenge is to identify, nurture, and retain top members. These are the people who will answer every question, welcome new members, and put their soul into the community.

My colleague, Sarah Hawk (just about to depart for a fantastic new job at Discourse), has spent the last 8 months putting together the biggest and most comprehensive guide to building superuser programs ever created.

The guide includes breakdowns and tips from over a dozen managers of top community superuser programs, a detailed set of resources detailing how to get one started, and what you can do to turn your program into a monster success.

You’re going to learn the psychology, technology, and the processes that make yours succeed.

You can find the complete guide here:

Get The Templates for Free

Mobilize, a tool which can help you manage superuser programs, have sponsored each of you with a set of templates to optimize your efforts.

You can download them for free here:

The Most Important Idea In Community Development

Speaking this week to community managers in Israel, one idea struck a chord; asset-based community development.

It’s the most important concept in community organizing you probably haven’t heard of.

ABCD is when a community organizer (builder, manager) stops treating communities as a group with a collective problem to solve and starts treating the community as a group with countless opportunities for growth.

It’s the belief that every single person who walks through the door of your event, who joins your community, or engages with you in some way has something they can offer the group.

It’s the belief that every single person has unique skills, knowledge, experiences and more that they can contribute to the collective benefit of the group.

Your community today has people with backgrounds in design, law, technology, marketing, sales, customer service.

Your community has people who have spare rooms, a car they’re not using, books they don’t read repeatedly, clothes, food and more.

Your community has people who know people. People that need to fill jobs, can give medical advice, or have traveled to wonderful places.

In short, your community has people who can design things, translate things, lend items, provide expertise and be more engaged if you can make the connections and make them feel special about doing it.

Someone asked in the Tel Aviv session, ‘What’s the secret to keeping members actively engaged?’.

ABCD is the answer.

The Community Insights And Innovation Strategy

July 16, 2017 Comments Off on The Community Insights And Innovation Strategy

Communities are a goldmine for innovation and insights, but you need to get the strategy right. Insights don’t appear by chance, they appear after a successful execution of your community strategy.

You can use a community to directly solicit ideas, gather feedback, identify bugs, track sentiment, identify popular trends, and refine ideas through getting early feedback (content, possible new features, and potential product changes).

More than any other goal, innovation requires internal alliances (and strong internal relationships) to realize the value.

I’ve spoken with many community managers this year who have shifted from customer support to an innovation-driven approach. It’s the most effective way to gain internal support.

Goals and Objectives

First, make sure the goals (the change the community makes in the world) and the objectives (behaviors you need people to perform to achieve that goal) both align. If you’re measuring engagement (clicks, likes, shares) you have the wrong objectives.

Some examples are below.

The objectives should be really, really, specific here. Think very carefully what behaviors will actually achieve the goal. There should be nothing vague. If you want members to refine products/improve content, you need them to read/engage with it first (action 1), you need them to reply with suggestions/feedback in the community (action 2). You might also want them to complete surveys about the products too (action 3).

That’s 3 very specific actions. All other engagement metrics are irrelevant.

Now you need a strategy for each of the objectives you’ve established.

(this is also why you should only have 1 goal and a max of 3 to 5 objectives).


Remember strategy is about inducing an emotional state that will get people to perform the behavior you want.

If you want members to report bugs, why would they do that if they’re not already?

As we see above, you might decide to stress the frustration they might feel and change the environment to highlight how they could easily remove the frustration.

You might focus on building a sense of pride. This might mean creating a group of people who proactively look for bugs that everyone else has missed.

You might focus on jealousy, and see who can resolve the most bugs.

You might focus on belonging, being part of a ‘bug squad’ that goes out there looking for bugs as part of their group identity.

Only pick one strategy per objective (I know how hard it is), but any more will diminish your focus on making the strategy successful.


By this stage you might be pursuing two clear strategies:

1) Belonging – Create a bug squad of insiders to seek out and report bugs.

2) Fear – not getting your bug fixed if you don’t click/share if the bug affects you too.

The tactics should now fall relatively neatly into place.

1) STRATEGY: Belonging (creating the bug squad)

Tactics here might include:

  • Create a separate place for the group to interact and collaborate – also where they have direct access to staff members.
  • Build relationships with the leaders of the group.
  • Facilitate off-topic bonding-related discussions for group members to interact and get to know one another better.
  • Host an offline group meet up for members to connect.
  • Create unique avatars members of the ‘bug squad’ can use.
  • Creating rituals and traditions for new members of the bug squad.

Whatever your strategy is, all your actions should be subservient to it.

2) STRATEGY: Fear (that your bug won’t get fixed)

Again, tactics might include:

  • Publishing a regular list of ‘top bugs’ and sharing the roadmap. Inviting members to select the ones that affect them or they won’t get fixed.
  • Asking members to check if their bugs are at the top of the list, or they might miss out on getting it fixed.
  • Having quarterly ‘closures’ of time when people can vote on which bugs they want fixed next.
  • Email campaigns highlighting time is running out to get your bug fixed before the next engineering sprint.

Notice how every tactic embraces the use of fear but for positive aims – to get bugs fixed.

By this point, you should have an extremely clear and coherent strategy that connects your tactics, to your strategy, to your objectives, and your goals.

You should have moved past the ‘driving more engagement’ and focused specifically on the kind of activity you need members to perform.

What Is An Online Community?

July 13, 2017 ,,Comments Off on What Is An Online Community?

An online community is a group of people who have built relationships around a strong common interest and primarily use the internet to communicate with one another.

That definition used to be enough, I’m not sure it is anymore.

We wrote about this 3 years ago.

The shift since then has been less about relationships between members and more towards the strong common interest and online interaction alone.

Community today most commonly means everyone who shares the same interest regardless of their interest with one another. It includes your social media followings, 3rd party groups, your mailing list, and everyone you connect with online who shares the same interest. That interest might be your field or your product.

e.g. you and I might not know each other, but if we both use an iPhone we might be in the iPhone community.

This presents opportunities and risks. The opportunity is a more expansive, broader, and a more powerful role for the community manager. Perhaps one that includes figuring out the best way to engage people across multiple platforms and social tools.

The risk is it becomes difficult to define community compared with customer experience, customer success, customer support, customer relationship management, online marketing, and similar disciplines.

Push for a more expansive role engaging with customers across all platforms if you can, but be aware it might be in a different discipline.

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